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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

Migration and Political Conflict. Although there is a substantial scholarly literature on the political behavior of the migrant, far less attention has been given to the political behavior of the inhabitants of the region to which the migrant has moved.* The immigration problem is generally seen as one of "absorption" or "assimilation," rarely as one of interaction in which the inhabitant, too, has problems of adjustment and change. Thus when policymakers give attention to the problems created by migrants, they often give more attention to aiding migrants, rather than to cushioning the strains under which the native inhabitants are also placed.
There are a number of reasons why local inhabitants may feel threatened by a large influx of migrants. The migrant may be competing for the same jobs, and if the migrant is willing to work for lower wages, then the threat may be quite real. If the state and private sector are unable to provide new housing, more health facilities, more educational facilities, and other social programs rapidly, then the native inhabitant will sense a deterioration of local services. If migrants organize themselves and seek power in local government, local school boards, and local churches, they threaten the power of local inhabitants. And if the migrant speaks a different language, belongs to a different race, subscribes to different religious beliefs, or has a different sense of cultural identity, these differences may be offensive to a native. Finally, the native inhabitant often feels that the migrant is destroying the long-established "sense of community"-a sense that the people who live in the area share the same outlook and understand one another.
Cultural and political conflict between the migrant and native inhabitant has long been a theme in American political life. The "Know Nothing Party" of the 1850's rallied the anti-immigrant sentiments of the times (40, p. 250; see also 2, 64, 65). The "backlash" movement of the 1960'shas had some of the same characteristics as the earlier movement, only this time the native inhabitants are often of Polish, German, Italian, and Irish descent, reacting not against immigrants from abroad but against Negro migrants from the South,
Some of the great cultural clashes in world history have been a consequence of the international movement of different ethnic groups. The conflicts between Germans and Slavs in eastern and southeastern Europe throughout the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries can be traced to the earlier migrations of both Germans and Slavs into this region of Europe (66-75). Similarly, the clash between Jews and Arabs is a consequence of earlier Jewish migrations into the Middle East and even earlier political movements which forced Jews to move to one part of the world from another. And in southern Asia the clash between Hindus and Muslims can ultimately be traced back to earlier migrations of the Mughul into south Asia. nor is there extensive social disorganization. The authors focus on the mediating role played by kinsmen in easing the adaptation of migrants to the city. For a comprehensive review and critique of much of the literature on the political behavior of urban migrants, see (62).